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Lineup Announced for First Annual Speak Up, Rise Up Festival

Lineup Announced for First Annual Speak Up, Rise Up Festival

Speak Up, Rise Up has announced their festival line-up which features 18 diverse solo and storytelling shows over the course of the week. Under the Artistic Direction of Asher Novek, the festival runs August 14 - 20 at the historic Connelly Theater on the Lower East Side.

The festival line-up includes; The Story Studio Presents: "In It Together: Stories of Strength in Diversity" hosted by Kevin Allison, Gastor Almonte's Raised by the East, Robin Bady's No, We Won't Shut Up!, Shannon Cason's Homemade Stories Live, Ophira Eisenberg's SCARS, Cait Elliott's The Cutless, Aparna 'N' Jo 'N' Friends! created & hosted by Aparna Nancherla & Jo Firestone, Dawn Fraser's curated storytelling show on current issues, How Hard? curated by Nisse Greenberg, Represent Live at the Speak Up, Rise Up Festival hosted by Aisha Harris, Josh Johnson's Awkward Hugs With Beautiful Women, Seena Jon's I AM OTHER________, Catie Lazarus's LATE BLOOMER, Giulia Rozzi's Emotional Genius, Jude Treder-Wolff's This Isn't Helping, Singleling w/Vanessa Valerio, and Surprise Stories hosted by Colin Wilhm.

Tickets are $15 online/$20 at the door, and are available at - Festival passes are available for $45 (4 tickets), $100 (10 tickets), and a full festival pass for $150 (18 tickets).

Performances take place at the Connelly Theater, 220 East 4th Street (between avenue A & B). Subway: F to 2nd Avenue (closest), 6 to Bleecker Street, B/D/F/M to Broadway-Lafayette. All performances last approximately one hour. More information available at

Speak Up, Rise Up Line-Up and Schedule:

SCARS - Written & performed by Ophira Eisenberg (Solo-show)

Monday, August 14 @ 8:00 pm

I, as you can imagine from the title of this show, have a lot of scars. And I don't mean metaphorical ones, I'm talking actual physical scars. I'm actually covered in them. This show is about my scars, filled with both comedic and tragic stories, and how to accept these patterns etched in my skin day after day after day. With special appearances by storyteller Ed Gavagan and magician Matthew Hoytzclaw.

Raised by the East - Written and performed by Gastor Almonte (Solo-show)

Monday, August 14 @ 9:30 pm

East New York has a specific reputation. Its people are a specific breed and because of that, there is a sense of pride that comes with being from there. Gastor wears that pride with him at all times. Raised by the East is a collection of stories by Gastor Almonte centered around his childhood memories from his neighborhood, East New York Brooklyn.

Shannon Cason's Homemade Stories Live - Created & performed by Shannon Cason (Live podcast)

Tuesday, August 15 @ 8:00 pm

Homemade Stories Podcast is short stories and commentary shared by writer/storyteller Shannon Cason. Shannon lays out his life for the listener, blemishes and all. Many of his vivid stories are insightful and true, others are imaginative works of fiction. The result is a unique storytelling experience.

This Isn't Helping - Written & performed by Jude Treder-Wolff (Solo-show)

Tuesday, August 15 @ 9:30 pm

In a world that seems to be getting crazier, how does a therapist whose been practicing for 20 years, deal with a bad case of burn-out? Go to therapy. And there are so many different kinds of therapy and self-help to choose from. Some fascinating characters think they can help with this search for hope including a mind/body therapist who was either the most relaxed, ethereal person in this world or was completely high.

Represent Live at the Speak Up, Rise Up Festival - Hosted by Aisha Harris (Live podcast)

Wednesday, August 16 @ 7:30 pm

Represent is a forum to discuss movies and TV series from the perspectives of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community, particularly through one-on-one interviews with artists in the industry. Guests have included Larry Wilmore, Barry Jenkins, Franchesca Ramsey, Rita Moreno, and Raoul Peck. The show has been highlighted in outlets such as The Guardian, The A.V. Club, Indiewire, The Huffington Post, Rookie, Gimlet's Sampler podcast, and Buzzfeed's Another Round podcast.

Singleling w/Vanessa Valerio - Hosted by Vanessa Valerio (Storytelling show)

Wednesday, August 16 @ 9:30 pm

Singleling is a monthly storytelling podcast and live show series that showcases love and dating stories from regular people and storytellers around the world, as well as advice from dating experts. We all have been in love, heart-broken and looking for "the one", at some point in our lives, therefore these stories are not only entertaining, but also relatable.

Awkward Hugs With Beautiful Women - Written & performed by Josh Johnson (Solo-show)

Thursday, August 17 @ 8:00 pm

From school dances to first dates to proposing to the woman he thought was his girlfriend, Josh Johnson has had the pleasure and pain of being terribly awkward in front of some beautiful, intense, and incredible women. Come let him tell you about it.

Emotional Genius - Written & performed by Giulia Rozzi (Solo-show)

Thursday, August 17 @ 9:30 pm

Giulia Rozzi workshops a new collection of stories about self-help, self-esteem and how we are all f*cked up.

The Story Studio Presents: "In It Together: Stories of Strength in Diversity" - Hosted by Kevin Allison (Storytelling show)

Friday, August 18 @ 8:00 pm

In today's political climate, it is more essential than ever that the stories of Americans from minority communities be heard. These are stories of courage and hope from people who learned they were viewed as "different" by many, but did not let it stop them from being all they could be.

I AM OTHER________ - Written & performed by Seena Jon (Solo-show)

Friday, August 18, 2017 @ 9:30 pm

Seena always checked the "other" box when it came to race. Little did he know, he would check the "other" box for the rest of his life too. Seena, along with the help of some visual projections, will share moments of his life that range from joyful childhood ignorance to sex, drugs, and anger filled adolescence to self-reflective empathy-addicted adulthood. By the end, you may even feel okay with being other too. Directed by Michael Mitnick.

The Cultess - Written & performed by Cait Elliott (Solo-show)

Saturday, August 19 @ 1:30 pm

In 2014, Cait met a man in a NYC coffeeshop. Three years later, she shares the raucous tale of joining a cult, falling in love with its leader, and life on the other side. A meditation on spirituality, sexuality, abuse of power and the basic human drive to seek shared through audience participation, stand up and storytelling.

Dawn Fraser (Storytelling show)

Saturday, August 19 @ 3:00 pm

Dawn Fraser presents a lineup of personal stories about current events, tensions in today's society, and how we all fit into a larger movement.

LATE BLOOMER - Written & performed Catie Lazarus (Solo-show)

Saturday, August 19 @ 6:00 pm

LATE BLOOMER, Catie Lazarus shares stories of her life as a slightly feral Late Bloomer.

Aparna 'N' Jo 'N' Friends! - Created & performed by Aparna Nancherla & Jo Firestone (Storytelling show)

Saturday, August 19 @ 9:00 pm

Aparna and Jo are many things to many people: comedians, scarecrows, junior chefs, crayons. Suffice it to say they know what it's like to be an outsider looking in. Join them as they navigate their way through a show with the help of their foolish friends who agreed to help them. Their only promise is they will delight and confuse you, not in that order. Actually, no promises. Scarecrows have enough on their plate as is. -

Surprise Stories - Hosted by Colin Wilhm (Storytelling show)

Saturday, August 19 @ 10:30 pm

Surprise Stories is the world's first storytelling game show. We combine storytelling and improv in a cage match setting. The audience gets to choose the themes and winners of each round. It's fun for the whole family.

The Defiant Network

Sunday, August 20 @ 12:00 pm

Defiant is a next-generation community committed to rebuilding the promise of America. We do this by identifying, curating, and amplifying successful leaders and communities taking democracy into their own hands. This summer, Defiant is traveling the country to document the leadership of young people who are shepherding their communities through generationally-defining crises: opiate addiction, mass incarceration, devastating debt, environmental injustice, the 1099 economy, among others. Defiant is excited to pilot a collective storytelling experiment of our generation at Stand Up, Rise Up.

How Hard? - Hosted by Nisse Greenberg (Storytelling show)

Sunday, August 20 @ 1:30 pm

As the prison industrial complex grows, people working to fight against it are also growing in numbers. In this show, we will hear stories from those have been on the inside and been in the trenches working to stop 21st century slavery. We will hear the struggle from those effected most personally.

No, We Won't Shut Up! - Hosted by Robin Bady (Storytelling show)

Sunday, August 20 @ 3:00 pm

There is a lot wrong in the world, and these four women have something to say about it. And no, you can't stop them because their time is now! Featuring Robin Bady, Megan Hicks, Nicole Ferraro, and Michele Carlo.

Speak Up, Rise Up is a first-year storytelling festival which focuses on bringing traditional and non-traditional performers together. The focus of the festival is to raise the profile of people and communities, whose stories we don't often hear.

The Advisory Committee includes: Destiny Arturet, David Crabb, Nicole Ferraro, Anita Flores, Susan Kent, Mark Pagan, Larry Rosen, and Jordan Schulze.

Community partners of Speak Up, Rise Up include; Lady Parts Justice League, NYC Veteran's Alliance, Theater of the Oppressed NYC, The Future Project, The Muslim Community Network, and Razom for Ukraine. Each organization is offering a workshop which will focus on personal storytelling for team members and their communities. The workshops will culminate in a community showcase during the festival.

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